5.08.2012

Recurring Dreams






Do you have recurring dreams? I have all sorts of dreams, usually every night. Many of them, good or bad, are completely nonsensical. People turn into other people, scenes shift, none of it makes any sense. People I forgot existed 10 years ago make cameo appearances. My dream life is kind of fun and trippy. Many other dreams serve to remind me that I am simply an anxious person by nature. And though I worry much less than I used to in my younger days, that pent up anxiety has to work itself out somehow. What I don't burn off through good old fashioned exercise seems to manifest in my dreams.

I was talking to some coworkers the other day, and neither of them dream much. I wonder what that's like, to wake up without trying to piece together what kind of bomb just went off in the junk drawer of your brain. One colleague did admit that he has a recurring dream that he has made a terrible financial decision, and he loses his house and can't provide for his family. Clearly that boring but stressful dream has a direct correlation to a real fear in his life. My recurring dreams seem to skirt my issues a bit, leaving me guessing what my mind is really trying to tell me. Maybe I need a therapist to help me unpack them.

Here are my most common recurring dreams. (Don't worry, they aren't too scary or disturbing!)

- I am sitting at a table, and suddenly one of my teeth feels kind of loose. I try to wiggle it a little with my tongue, and OMG it's VERY loose. Dangling by a thread, even. Surely if i leave it alone the roots will somehow firm back up. Then -- oh horror of horrors! -- the tooth next to it is loose too. My teeth! All loose! Thousands of dollars in orthodontics, for naught! One falls out with no warning or pain. I am spitting teeth. The dream ends when I am holding all my teeth in my hands. Toothless, not sure what to do. --> Recurring for about 10 years now. I've never had a cavity and don't really have any particular interest in teeth.

- I am in high school, taking a break from marching band practice. It's very hot. The impossibly shiny silver trumpet my parents got me when they realized I was pretty good is resting in its case, gleaming, safe, not flung onto the field like other kids' instruments. But, like I said, it's hot. Break over, I pick up my trumpet and I am alarmed that it is soft and pliable, drooping in my hands. I frantically, fruitlessly try to mold the wilted bell back into the shape of a trumpet. It was expensive. My parents are not going to believe me that I was very careful. --> Recurring since about 7th grade, based on genuine fear of denting my real-life silver trumpet. But why do I still have this dream as an adult? 

- I am running from something or someone, and it is very foggy. For whatever reason, I must get into the barn at my parents' house. It feels like I am running in jello. My legs will not move faster. All the miles I've clocked on my running shoes are useless to me. I always wake up before I find out what I'm running from, or why the barn holds such significance. --> Recurring since forever. No real context for this one. 

- I am nursing Johnnie in bed and doze off. I sink deep into dreamland and realize she's not there anymore. I search the sheets frantically, worrying I've dropped or smothered her. Then I wake myself up, my shirt wet because the dream felt so real my body thought I was actually nursing a baby. I realize she's safe in her bed since I have a strict policy of not falling asleep while nursing her or letting her sleep with us in our bed for that very reason. (Unless it's after her first morning feeding and I'm trying to snooze 10 extra minutes, not falling back into deep sleep.) --> Recurring since we brought Johnnie home from the hospital. This is the only dream I have (maybe the only one I've ever had?) that directly reflects a real anxiety in my life. 

So those are it. I don't know much about dreams, but I'm pretty sure these are telling me I need to chill out. Or maybe burn off more steam during the day. Or maybe stop eating sriracha sauce at dinner (which, no joke, always gives me nightmares). Regardless, clearly I'm just wound too tight.

But lest you think I'm one big bundle of weirdness, I want you to know that I do have "good" dreams too, which are of course are my favorite. I wonder, how does one go about having more good dreams?

What do you dream about?

11 comments:

  1. so the teeth falling out dreams is actually extremely common! i've never had it, but i've heard many people share this recurring theme. i have extremely vivid and (seemingly) random dreams. Mine tend to take on a running theme -not running from someone but running to something. The airport is the most common place i'm running to and in every dream i get there in the nick of time to realize i've forgotten something key - my license, my passport, my tickets, my money, my luggage, etc.
    i also have the "you must take this final for a class you've never attended all semester or you won't graduate" theme. I've had those since high school.
    I will sometimes have random sex dreams involving people I haven't seen or spoken to in 15 years. those always wake me up and make me laugh.
    I love being able to remember my dreams. I would love to learn how to dream in a lucid state, where I know I'm dreaming and thus can control the outcome. That would be cool.

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    1. Sometimes I think I know I'm dreaming and have a little control over it. But I still let the worst possible thing come true in the dream though I have the power to stop it. Like, I could will myself to dream that I catch the railing before I fall from a high building, but being the pessimist that I am, I allow the rail to break and I plunge to my doom. I am weird.

      I actually have school dreams too sometimes. Usually it's the first day yet there are exams, and I'm unable to read my locker number or my schedule to know where I'm going. I wake up when I open my eyes trying to get a better look at the words.

      Was it you who mentioned having a recurring dream about a famous person in your laundry room? Or am I thinking of someone else?

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  2. I think we might be the same person. Honestly. I read your posts and think, "Seriously? Is this gal reading my thoughts?!" :)

    I have the exact same running dream ALL. THE. TIME. My legs feel less like jello and more like bricks. I just can't seem to propel myself forward fast enough. And the teeth falling out, I have that one a lot too! That one freaks me out.

    I can recall my dream just about every night. My college roommate loved it, because I would wake up and tell her all about my wild and bizarre evening adventures. Adam has always been a little less thrilled by my crazy stories, but that doesn't stop me from sharing all of the details with him in the a.m.! I swear that creative people have more vivid dreams... and, as it turns out (just Googled it), WebMD agrees with me.

    Check it out: http://www.webmd.com/balance/news/20030627/creative-people-remember-more-dreams

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    1. Not many people share my wavelength! Cool. Welcome. :) Although I think you are more positive and upbeat than me. I need optimism lessons.

      I save only my most bizarre or funny dreams to share with my husband nowadays, because he usually looks genuinely concerned for my sanity when I spill my dream details on him. And some other times too!

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  3. I have heard that teeth dreams are super common, and often are less literal than you think. I've heard that for some reason, losing teeth in dreams is a common anxiety dream. Interesting.

    My most common anxiety dream - I have a flute (never played an instrument) and am instructed that I'm "first chair" in band. But, no one knows that I actually cannot play the flute. I try to tell people, but obviously no one can hear me. So, I have to fake it at a concert and I truly have no idea how to even begin. It's kind of horrible and I always wake up in a panic.

    I also continue to dream that I forget my locker combination.

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    1. Your flute dream is kind of funny actually! Not while it's happening, of course, but in retrospect. How did your brain randomly decide you needed to play the flute???

      High school dreams are so common too... I guess you never quite get over the stresses of adolescence.

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  4. I have always had extremely vivid (and mostly horrifying) dreams. I am a naturally anxious person (my parents tell me I was a stress ball even as a young child) though I'd like to think I can hide it pretty well.

    I've had several recurring dreams similar to yours. I often dream of my teeth falling out, or chewing and having to swallow glass. Those are the worst. I wake up exhausted from those dreams. I've read and heard from several people that it is associated with general stress, which for me, makes sense.

    I've had similar dreams where my legs are just jello. I'm not exactly needing to go anywhere, but I feel helpless. The real feeling I get is that my body is drunk, but my mind is sober. Again, I always associated this with general stress, and my subconscious trying to accept the things I cannot change.

    I often have nightmares where I've taught myself to become alert in my dreams, and to remind myself I'm just dreaming and that I need to wake up now. It sounds pretty cheesy to say out loud to someone, but I swear I can do it!

    My weirdest recurring dream is that I am suddenly back in my high school, and I realize that I have enrolled in a French class and math class that I never attended, and the semester is about to end. I am freaking out because I'm about to graduate, and I can't believe no one told me that I have been missing these classes, and are they going to keep me from graduating when they realize? This is the weirdest to me because I was always a straight A student, a hyper-vigilant list maker, and have extended degrees, so how could I have ever forgotten two classes back in high school?

    Anyway - this is easily the longest message I've ever left anyone on their blog! I've been following both of your blogs for a while now and this is probably my first comment. I love what you've done with the house and I'm happy to hear about your meanderings through motherhood and life!

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    1. Hi!! Thank you for introducing yourself, and in such a personal way. So nice to hear from people who have followed in silence for so long.

      I have never had the chewing glass dream (egads!!! you poor thing) but I have definitely dreamed many times that I'm in high school and must take a final for a class I've never attended.

      I too was a totally stressed kid. Still am some days. I think we should all go away on a long, relaxing vacation together and work on our anxieties. At least we know we're in good company.

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  5. Hey! Just got around to seeing this :) I love your dreams! They are quirky and weird and nonsensical, just like mine. So one of my recurring dreams (there are a couple) is the floor giving way beneath my feet, almost assuredly as I'm almost to a place that I really need to be. My dream will not let me get there. My dream world causes the floor to give way beneath me as I'm about to say something witty, see the person I'm meant to see, turn the corner to something great, climb a staircase that leads to where I need to be etc. Wow, when I type it out, it sounds like I have some sort of hangup?! I really see no significance in my life though! But for as long as I can remember, I cannot walk on a solid surface in my dreams.

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    1. That is so interesting, Linds! I've never had one like that. (The one where I open my eyes to read something important is the closest I get.)

      Let's psychoanalyze you -- is there something in your life you've wanted to have or to achieve, but it was snatched away from you? Or that you've been too afraid to let yourself to have or to achieve? Talk to us! We'll help you get through it! :)

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  6. Haha just came back and saw this! I need to get an email update somehow but haven't quite figured that out. After thinking about it, I realized it's been a long while since this has happened in a dream, maybe even years. However, weirdly, sometimes I will be having a regular dream and REMEMBER that the floor falling out SHOULD be part of my dream as it always was, and I will think, "Oh man!" and sure enough it will fall. I can't say it's as regular though, or that it has been for years now. So to answer your question... I really feel like I've acheived everything I could ever possibly want!! I feel TOO blessed most of the time- maybe that is part of it? Like who am I to deserve all of this wonderful? Hm... or maybe... it's just a dream :)

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Thanks for reading! I love your thoughts, feedback and suggestions. Keep 'em coming!